More aquatic invasive species?

MDNR adds seven more exotic aquatic animals to the state list of prohibited species. To avoid hefty fines, be aware of which plants and animals are prohibited in the state of Michigan.

Prohibiting the possession, sale and transport of exotic aquatic plants and animals can help to slow their spread to Michigan waterways. Photo credit: Jane Herbert l MSU Extension

Prohibiting the possession, sale and transport of exotic aquatic plants and animals can help to slow their spread to Michigan waterways. Photo credit: Jane Herbert l MSU Extension

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) recently announced the addition of seven invasive aquatic animals to the state list of prohibited plants and animals. Readers may ask, “What are these critters and, by the way, what do you mean by “prohibited”?”

According to the November 10, 2014 MDNR news release, “Any species considered for listing as prohibited or restricted must be not native to Michigan. Prohibited species generally are not present or are in very limited areas, whereas restricted species are generally widespread and naturalized within the state.”

For example, a previous Michigan State University Extension article detailed the discovery of the invasive aquatic plant, parrot feather in a southeast Michigan pond earlier this year. According to the MDNR, parrot feather is a “prohibited species” in Michigan, which makes its possession, transport or release illegal, due to the severe negative effects it can have on native ecosystems. Parrot feather is a popular water gardening and aquarium plant.

Newcomers to the state list of prohibited species include fish, crustaceans and mollusks so it is important for boaters, retailers, bait dealers and exotic plant and animal enthusiasts to know which species are prohibited or restricted according to Part 413 of Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451 of 1994. It is illegal to be in possession of, sell, offer to sell or introduce into the environment prohibited plants and animals, and hefty fines may be incurred.

The MDNR news release goes on to explain that classification of the rusty crayfish has been changed from “prohibited” to “restricted.” This follows the sad conclusion that this invasive crustacean is now considered widespread and naturalized in Michigan. As a restricted species, it is illegal to introduce rusty crayfish into the environment or use them for bait.

While the MDNR regulates prohibited and restricted animals, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has authority over plants. Water soldier is another popular water gardening plant that has become invasive in Ontario. As a preventative measure, MDARD is expected to add this aquatic plant to Michigan’s prohibited species list in January 2015.

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